As recruiters, social media stalking is practically in our job remit. This is just the world we live in nowadays! And whilst candidates have a responsibility to ensure their social media presence is presentable if they want to be taken seriously in the professional world, we also have a responsibility to offer them guidance.
We know our clients will scope out any candidate online that we send their way, so it works in both our favours to do our due diligence on their social profiles and help the candidate tidy things up before putting them forward for a role. Call it ‘ethical social media stalking’ if you like!
So let’s take a look at some of the best techniques for social media stalking candidates.
You’ll already be well adept at sourcing candidates on LinkedIn, but are you using the information you find to back-check their work history too?
If there are roles appearing on a candidate’s CV that are nowhere to be found on their LinkedIn, this is almost always a red flag. More than a third of candidates admit to lying on their CV, and cross-referencing with their LinkedIn profile is a good way to avoid the embarrassment of sending over a star candidate to your client only for them to come back flagging inconsistencies that you haven’t picked up on.
Candidates will often say things in CVs that they wouldn’t put on a public LinkedIn profile – primarily because it’s so easy to get caught out for things like over-inflating responsibilities or saying you were with a company much longer than you actually were. So do your homework and if something doesn’t match up, bring this up directly with the candidate so you can get the picture straight before you put them forward to your client.
You can tell a lot about a candidate from their Twitter profile if they’re an active user (and no, not just that they like using Twitter!).
For example, if your candidate has told you they have a strong passion for animal rights, humanitarian work or environmental causes, but they’re not following a single account related to these concerns, this is probably a sign they’re being dishonest about their interests.
If a scroll through their Twitter feed throws up a plethora of negative customer rants, offensive messages, distasteful memes and homophobic/racist language, this is going to look far from appealing to a hiring manager (or to you for that matter!).
This kind of behaviour is not only a concern for the team you’re hiring into (can a candidate who spends their day abusing people be a right cultural fit for any business? Can someone who can’t abide by basic terms of service be trusted to follow company policies?) but it’s going to make your clients think you haven’t screened the candidate – and they might even take offense at you putting them forward.
Two thirds of recruiters say they’ve been influenced by what they’ve found online about a candidate, and a Twitter account can often be the easiest channel to turn your opinion. But do be careful using social media as a screening tool, as a candidate’s internet persona doesn’t always offer a completely accurate portrayal of them and it could lead to you missing out on star candidates.
Rather than disqualifying a candidate based on their social media, simply open up a discussion. If you notice they have a questionable Twitter profile, the best strategy would be to have a very honest discussion with them about it and advise them to make changes if they're serious about moving forward.
If you’ve got to the stage that you’re looking a candidate up on Facebook, it’s likely they’ve already passed the LinkedIn professionalism test and you’re feeling pretty positive that they’d be a good fit. So, now’s the time to help your candidates over that next hurdle!
If you do a semantic search on Facebook, such as ‘[candidate name] worked at [company]’ to confirm they worked at a business, you can bet the hiring manager will be doing this too.
It’s also worth noting that even if a candidate’s profile is set to private, this information is still accessible, so it’s a good idea to recommend to your candidate that these details match the information they have on LinkedIn.
Many candidates often assume that only those within their friend network can see their Facebook photos, but this certainly isn’t the case. A quick search for ‘recent photos of [insert name]’ will throw up more than you probably want to know (unless the candidate has made changes to the default photo settings), so it’s crucial your candidate is aware of how they appear in searches. This is your chance to provide some real candidate care, and let them know if anything untoward comes up.
If your candidate does a quick privacy check-up to make sure anything they don’t want employers to see is hidden, this will prevent any information coming up that could be used against them. And while we’re on the topic, it’s not a bad idea for you to do the same thing. In our current candidate-led market, as much as 22% of candidates admit to stalking interviewers and recruiters too, so your reputation is at stake here too!
Yes, we know – Google isn’t a social media channel in itself, but as the world’s largest search engine, it can work wonders in helping you scope out your candidate’s other social media channels that you’ve not found yet.
Try typing a candidate’s name into the search bar within inverted commas, then add their location. After a few clicks and a bit of digging, this can easily lead you to other accounts (and again, if you’re performing this kind of search on your candidates, you can bet your clients will be too, so you need to prepare for this!).
If the candidate has a particularly popular name meaning you’re presented with hundreds of results to sift through, try adding some information you already know to the search. For example, if their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, then @jimmymcg25 might also be their Twitter handle. Then, just run through the steps above to make sure your candidate has the best chance of impressing the hiring manager (and anyone else who might be tempted to take a peek!).
Do you have a strategy in place for laser-targeting the right candidates on social media? Even the smallest budget can help you get your job ads in front of the candidates you need – you just need to know the tricks!
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Christine is a Digital Marketer with experience managing communications across a variety of sectors. She loves caffeine, cosy jumpers and cocktails.